On the auspicious occasion of Eid, let me tell you a small story.When people in the country are killing men for possession of beef and other menial reasons, there is a very true, inclusive side to every community that we don’t have the time to see when we are blinded with prejudice.
A close friend was bereaved and we were navigating the extremely crowded, claustrophobic streets of Mumbai Central. The entire feeling was that of gloom given the impending condolence meet and the whole cloudy monsoonish feeling that felt like dementors were on their way to suck my soul.
We walked for over 40 minutes searching for the house. The narrow lanes were getting narrower because of the Eid and as prayer time grew closer, the narrow lanes were lit brightly with steaming hot halogen bulbs which reflected across from the green and golden decorations in every shop. Stalls propped up out of nowhere. And tables full of iftari sweets and savouries appeared out of thin air. The streets bustled with activity and everyone was joyous.It was almost Namaaz time when we walked into a building to ask for the address. Just then the melodious azaan rang through the shanties and the high rises alike.
Although it sounded very serene, so much religious fastidiousness would be over whelming for the three of us friends who are fairly omnireligious if not blasphemous already. We were a little taken back by the silence that fell over the lanes that just seconds were bustling with activity and sellers defeaningly announcing their wares.
So, we walked into the building just in time to ask the address of the friends building. The Watchman understood the urgency of the situation and took us into the building. We were literally the only people on the road. And I have never felt so alone in my entire life in Mumbai. You can walk across the road at 3 am and you’ll find at least a milk man or a flower seller. Here, NO ONE. We were scared, to say the least and lost, to add to the fear.
While we waited patiently for the person to tell us where the said address was, the gentleman very graciously said, ” Aapne Roza rakhkha hai kya ? Toh aa jao “… Inviting us so lovingly into their prayer room and at their dinner table.
Ask yourself ! Would you invite a stranger into your home for a meal without knowing who they are, where they come from, what they do ?
It seemed like nothing for a few seconds. But would you invite a stranger to join you for Christmas mass ? Would you invite a stranger to join you for a pooja in your house ? The sincerity of the invite was so refreshing ! And just like that, all the apprehensions were gone. We didn’t feel alone, we didn’t feel out of place. Even though we were amidst strangers it didn’t seem strange anymore.
If that doesn’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will. Eid Mubarak to everyone, especially the non believers, pessimists, and the ones who are holding on to a single shred of hope.